Millions of Americans are delaying dental appointments over concerns about coronavirus infection, and that's likely to trigger increased fees for patients, job cuts for workers and fewer family practices.

When the pandemic began this spring, essentially all dentists temporarily shut down for all but emergency appointments, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work.  While 99% of dentists have reopened, the number of patients visiting offices remains about 20% below usual levels, according to the American Dental Association.

And dentists don't expect it to improve much more anytime soon despite significant safety measures they’ve rolled out to protect themselves and patients from COVID-19.

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Spending on dental care could fall by up to 38% in 2020 and 20% in 2021, the ADA projects. Of dentists surveyed by the trade group, more than 46% said their patient volume was down at least 15% from usual levels during the week of Oct. 5.

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